Sunday, January 31, 2010

Review: Guest Reviewer Janet Morris Grimes Shares Latest from Charles F. Stanley

How to Reach Your Full Potential for God

Best selling author, Charles F. Stanley, has a knack for identifying areas of struggle for his readers. Through this particular book, he unleashes the power God intended for each of us, giving us permission to claim a better way of life for ourselves.

Stanley first identifies the traps that ensnare us, including low self-esteem, the fear of disappointment or failure, laziness, etc. It is important to recognize the chains that hold us back if we are to ever make changes that last forever.

Stanley goes on to reveal the steps God shared with him through a 3:00 a.m. encounter that changed his life. In order to reach their full potential, the reader must reconnect with his or her own gifts and God-given desires of the heart. He proclaims that the best is yet to come, an idea that seems foreign to many in this day and age.

I recommend this book for anyone whose dreams were long ago replaced with the expectations of others. If we are ever to accept God’s challenges, we must get past ourselves enough to recognize that we are a part of His plan, rather than God being a small part of our own plan for our lives.


Janet Morris Grimes (Click article title to visit Janet's site!)
Any day spent writing is the best day of my life...

Saturday, January 30, 2010

Guest Adolfo Caso Shares Latest Poetry...

Measuring Immanence

                                                                                                          Adolph Caso

The blazing sunset

At my back,

Its multi layered colors

Suffusing the air

In front and around me,

The horizon opening to infinity

I stand on top of this earth

Gazing everywhere

And to nowhere special,

Neither on any plant

Nor on one specific creature,


And both measurable

And immeasurable,



By the gilded light

In continuous change,

Without prediction,

Or consideration

On good or evil—


Of and within my mind

Feeling my feet

Anchored to the ground

And the imminent suspension

Of my body

In a trajectory into space:

I am



               In me!

Friday, January 29, 2010

Guest Spencer DelCano Asks An Important Question!

Are Christians Suppose to be Poor Servants of God/Christ?

Most my life I have heard people speak in various terms about wealth, money and otherwise, as not being the will of God. It has always made me wonder how they could figure this gracious God could possibly want his servants to be paupers in the world. When it is an accepted fact that believers are charged with spreading the Word, are they expected to walk around to talk about their great Lord? Are they expected to nearly starve because it is the way of their Lord? Are they supposed to live in shacks because they are supposed to be poor?

I think not. I can’t and never have been able to wrap my mind around that sort of mentality. No one can make me believe this omnipotent God I serve wants me to be the dirge of society especially when he is charging me with spreading his Word. Haven’t enough people thought for themselves that no real God would want his message spread which tells others he is a God of poor outcomes and his people must be slaves to as little of the world as can be.

I actually believe this misunderstanding comes from those who claim to be Christians not studying the Bible, but either listening to misguided preachers and others or simply having a false grasp of their own understanding of the Word and have missed plenty of details in the Bible which counteract this theory of Christians needing to be poor if they are going to serve their God. I find just the opposite to be true from my study.

If we look at Joshua 1: 7 & 8 we see God speaking to his people about being courageous and strong where ever they go and following the commandments spoken by Moses as received from God they will be prosperous. Furthermore He speaks of the book of the law (commandments) which they should meditate on day and night that they should do accordingly and become prosperous.

In Deuteronomy 7: 12-16 God is telling his people if they follow his commandments He will enrich them, love them, bless them greatly and increase their riches. Is this something too many miss in their reading (not studying) of the bible? Some will say it’s just the Old Testament and means nothing in the teachings of Christ.

Am I to believe that God wasted his time laying out the laws and commandments which would be manifest in the New Testament with the coming of The Christ? I think not. If we look at sections of Mark with the idea in mind that Jesus was known to be a homeless wanderer by many (even today) we see hints of information which is contrary to those beliefs. When he was asleep in the boat while this great storm arose and frightened his disciples I am sure many miss a little tidbit. The scriptures say very clearly (Mark 4:38) he was asleep in the hinder part of the ship, asleep on a “pillow” and they awake him, and say Master, carest thou not that we perish?

I have heard ministers preaching on this topic but all of them skipped right over the fact that there was a pillow mentioned in the bible yet no one addressed. My mind asked if this Jesus was a homeless person where did the pillow come from. Why was it mentioned in the bible? Why might it be important? Poor, homeless people normally do not have pillows.

As we read more in the Book of St Mark we see plenty of examples where Jesus is moving from place to place which has a few obvious results. It lets his disciples know he is not just yet in the process of building a kingdom. At least not building the sort of kingdom which most would consider. That the three years of his visit on earth was strictly for a limited mission. Not one to acquire earthly possessions but to spread the Word of God and to help the poor by giving and healing.
Look at John 13 during the Last Supper when Jesus told His disciples one of them would betray Him. In verse 27 Jesus said to Judas Iscariot, “that thou doest, do it quickly”. The others at the table had no idea what the purpose was for Jesus saying what he did. Because Judas had the bag (money bag) some of them thought maybe Jesus wanted Judas to go buy supplies or to give to the poor. I feel verses like this also help to dismiss the mistaken belief that followers are to be poor. What was the significance of the money bag? Obviously Jesus was not traveling as a poor man nor was his disciples.

There has been no mention that any of them worked or was operating businesses while they followed Jesus. With the twelve disciples plus Jesus that is thirteen totally who traveled, ate, had shelter, sandals, clothing and all they needed to do their duty. What poor persons could travel extensively and feed their group plus donate to the poor? By all accounts of the Bible, though, in verses many miss along the way none of those who followed Jesus initially were poor but business people with the means to have servants and operate thriving businesses. If not why would there be a money bag, in another verse a comptroller was mentioned and how could poor people give to the poor?

I feel God wants His followers to prosper and have all the wealth available so as to do his work.

NO, Christians are not suppose to be poor servants of God.

Spencer DelCano

Thursday, January 28, 2010

A Heavenly Highlight! Lorna Barrett

"Frannie's handshake was as strong as any man's though not crushing. 'How's the book business? Doin' real well, are ya? I read romances myself. Love that Nora Roberts--but not those J.D. Robb ones she writes.' Frannie leaned closer, lowered her voice confidentially. 'They're set in the future, ya know, and that's just plain weird.

"Can't say as I've ever read any of her work." (p. 32)

I chuckled upon reading the above  from Murder is Binding, the first book in a new Booktown Mystery series.

The second person talking is Tricia Miles, owner of a mystery bookstore in Stoneham, New Hampshire.

Now, I must say, that anybody that runs a mystery bookstore surely has Nora Roberts on her bookshelves, don't you think??? I hope she knows Nora personally so her series won't be banned...LOL!

Anyway, this was a little like the tv show mystery bookstore so if you enjoy that program, you'd be advised to start right from the beginning with Murder is Binding.  I enjoyed the new characters and have trackled Lorna Barrett...even if she is missing out on my favorite author, J.D. Robb!


Paperback of Jesus Interrupted Out February 2nd...

Jesus, Interrupted
by Bart Ehrman

Winona Ryder and Angelina Jolie have not approved the message of this book – and nor, I’m guessing, will your evangelical friends. And yet Bart Ehrman has hit a nerve – as author of the most-used New Testament introductory textbook in America, the Chapel Hill bible scholar seeks to make the fruits of historical-critical biblical scholarship accessible to the average reader in a series of books including the New York Times best-selling Misquoting Jesus, the book that set the blogosphere a-buzz and actually incited three major-release books in response.

Now, in Jesus, Interrupted: Revealing the Hidden Contradictions in the Bible (And Why We Don’t Know About Them), Ehrman goes even further, suggesting not only that the Bible is riddled with inconsistencies and outright forgeries, but that many of Christianity’s fundamental stories and doctrines don’t actually exist within its pages-they were later inventions by people trying to make sense of a disconnected collection of texts. The Scriptures did not come down to us through the ages in one, harmonious, unbroken version. The story of Jesus was, in fact, interrupted.

Based on years of scholarship, and just in time for your Easter blogging, TheOOZE offers you Ehrman’s most important work-to-date. Jesus, Interrupted argues:

Only 8 of the 27 books of the New Testament were actually written by the authors to whom they’re attributed. Others are likely forgeries.

The gospels provide remarkably divergent portrayals of Jesus. As an example, the crucifixion story varies greatly between the gospels of Mark and Luke. Mark’s account depicts a suffering Jesus crying out “My God, my God, why have your forsaken me?” as he dies. Luke, however, portrays a calm Jesus who simply says “Father, into your hands I commend my spirit.”

The message of the Apostle Paul and the message of gospel writer Matthew are completely at odds over the question of whether a follower of Jesus also had to observe the Jewish law.

The Nicene Creed and the Trinity were constructs of the later church and are not found in the Bible.

Traditional doctrines such as the suffering Messiah, the divinity of Christ, and the notion of heaven and hell are not based on the teachings of the historical Jesus.

Sure to influence conversations about the Bible among faithful, skeptics, and emergent types alike, Ehrman’s Jesus, Interrupted is sure to be talked about this Lenten season. Like every book we offer, we’re neither endorsing it nor expecting you to – we only ask for your honest and sustained feedback.

Viral Bloggers.Com

Guest Blogger Janet Morris Grimes Writes About Author Mary DeMuth

The Gift of Transparency


Janet Morris Grimes

The process of penning a personal story, for the writer, is similar to standing on a stage, donned in only a bikini, lining up for a beauty contest. Exposed and unprotected, the writer unleashes all that she has to offer, timidly waiting to be evaluated, judged and even criticized for doing so. But rather than focusing on the contestant’s physical beauty, smile, shape, walk, talk, etc., the spotlight falls squarely on her deepest emotions, betrayals, suffering, fears and dreams. And instead of a trio of judges, there are thousands; each one as valued as the next.

Such is the case for Author, Mary Demuth, whose personal memoir, Thin Places, hits bookshelves on February 1st.

“Why would you splay out your life in this way?” she was once asked.

“Because I don’t want them to feel alone,” she answered, referring to her readers, who in turn, also serve as the judges in her beauty contest.

Mary’s story is that of a little girl who faced sexual abuse, neglect, drug-using parents, fear, and even the death of a parent. Though she is forced to relive these experiences in order to share her story, the focus of the book is on the hope of God through these trials. As God rescued her from a past that could have easily led to a path of downward spirals, this story focuses on the “thin places” in her life, or places where she could clearly feel the presence of God, long before she recognized the need for Him or knew how to put her feelings into words.

“Jesus says truth sets people free. This is my way of doing that—of telling the stark truth on the page so others can be set free.” Mary explains, readily admitting that by sharing her story, she has been set free from the grips of her past as well.

Everyone has a story to tell; perhaps true healing only comes to those willing to tear down the walls and become truly transparent, even in front of strangers.

And today, as Mary stands on her stage, waiting to see how her story will be received, I suspect she may find herself in another of those “thin places.”

But such is required for those willing to give the gift of transparency.

For additional information on Mary and all of her books, see


Janet Morris Grimes
Any day spent writing is the best day of my life...

Have you ever experienced a "God Incident?" I had never read Mary DeMuth until I read A Slow Burn, which I had just posted yesterday. Immediately after I received this: "This is more of a story on author, Mary Demuth rather than a book review." That's what I call a God Incident!

Thanks Janet! You may meet Janet on her web site by clicking the article title!

Wednesday, January 27, 2010

Review: A Slow Burn Beautiful Story of Love!

A Slow Burn

By Mary E. DeMuth
ISBN: 9780310278375
362 Pages

There are some books, like A Slow Burn by Mary E. DeMuth, that speak directly to you. When that happens, it becomes memorable and is one that will be placed on your “keep” shelf, possibly to reread or refer to special friends. A Slow Burn has a number of lessons to be learned, or perhaps, as He is prone to do, God’s particular message for “you” will be what you find.

While Emory Chance is the main character, I was drawn most to Hixon and his role in the book. Although I don’t normally find that race is an important factor in a book, I think it was for this novel. Hixon is a Black handyman. He loves God and talks with Him often. The thing is—God has told him that Emory Chance was going to be his wife. Not only was it hard to believe because he thought she was so beautiful and he just a handyman with little to give her, but he knew that his being Black was something that those in Defiance would find hard to accept.

Yet he felt His message had been clear. And he quietly went about doing small jobs for Emory and being there when she might need him. Just waiting until God gave him further guidance.

Emory was beautiful, yes, but she was also a drunk and a druggie. In fact, her daughter, Daisy, was more mature and did more to take care of her mother rather than what it should have been—Emory taking care of Daisy.

And then Daisy was gone—murdered!

Emory was lost without her daughter. Not only because she loved her but because Daisy had been the one good thing in her life and had constantly tried to help Emory. Now, Emory was forced to face the fact that she had been zoned out while her daughter had been taken; she knew she had to carry some of the responsibility for Daisy’s death. And it was tearing her apart.

When she could, she would try to stay off the drugs; even Hixon was trying to help her get clean. Then her guilt would surface and she’d turn to the drugs to help her forget. Or her supplier would come by and give her some samples, wanting to party and have a good time... Then, too, someone, perhaps the one who murdered Daisy, was playing tricks—stealing things and putting them back, etc. It seemed Emory was doomed to stay on the drugs!

DeMuth has created a wonderful cast of characters, merging racial differences in such a way that you know those differences mean little in the scheme of things. Some quietly bring food to Emory, her boss cares for and gives her time when she needed it and, because of Hixon and God’s promise, she was being provided a home for her future. God surely does work in mysterious ways!

I won’t say that I enjoyed the ending. However, A Slow Burn by Mary E. DeMuth is a beautiful story of love, forgiveness and redemption like no other. DeMuth certainly writes to explain clearly that God does indeed have a personal plan for us and that He takes personal interest to ensure His children come home to Him! An amazing story that must be read!

G. A. Bixler
For Amazon Vine

Tuesday, January 26, 2010

A Heavenly Highlight! Lincoln Child

E-Harmony is an amateur compared to Eden Inc. At least that seems to be the case in Death Match by Lincoln Child. Only thing is, those that found the perfect mate are now committing suicide.

At least that is what their deaths look like...

Christopher Lash, a forensic psychologist, is hired to find out what's happening...I thought it was great that he failed to qualify for a match!

I figured this mystery out, but it is still a great book!

Lincoln Child also writes with Douglas Preston--a team I really enjoy!

Shorts on fun favorites from my must-read author list...

Monday, January 25, 2010

A Heavenly Highlight! J. D. Robb

"On the sidewalk, people bustled by. On the street, traffic chugged. The air buzzed with the sound of them, of business, of busy, of life, while Lopez stood quietly studying Eve's face.

"'Why do you do what you do? Every day. It must take you places most can't look. Why do you? Why are you a cop?'

"'It's what I am.' Weird, she realized, that she could stand with a man she barely knew, one she couldn't yet eliminate as a suspect, and tell him. 'It's not just that someone has to look, even though that's just the way it is. It's that I have to look.'

"'A calling.' Lopez smiled. 'Not so different from mine.'

She let out a short laugh. 'Well.'

"We both serve, Lieutenant. And to serve we each have to believe in what some call the abstract. You in justice and in order. In law. Me, in a higher power and the laws of the Church.'

"'You probably don't have to kick as many asses in your line.'"

From Salvation in Death, 2008, J. D. Robb - A Favorite Must-Read Author...

Thursday, January 21, 2010

Young Poetist Rachel Elizabeth Eberhart Shares...

God is Forever

"Even the most delicate flower is forever more." 

As the night sets in,

the light still shines,

from heaven to earth,

the brightness of His glory

will always be



BRH is grateful to Ms. Eberhart
for sharing her copyrighted poem...

Rose is public domain...

Join In A Moment of Silence in Memory of a Great Author - Robert B. Parker

Robert B. Parker died on the 19th of January, 2010...

He was one of my longest-known author friends...Oh, he never knew me, but I loved his books... doesn't that make him my friend? I think so...

I will miss his books, although I understand there are some still in the publishing phase that will be coming out...

Still, it just won't be the same knowing that there will be only a few and no more...

Robert B. Parker was just 77 when he died...

He is best known and loved for the Spenser books and television series...

His books were always dedicated to Joan...

This, too, is dedicated to Joan...

and Robert B. Parker...

May our love continue forever in the true and real

Book Readers Heaven

I hope God has a special alcove well-lighted and ready for him...

2010 - A New Year Has Begun - BRH Bloggin'

Good Morning!

A new year, 2010, has begun...and in what a nice solid way--it's twenty-ten! Is that how you've been saying it? I like the sound of it! When it turned 2000, it was all about Y2K and, of course, as we all know, nothing major happened...

Except that I was still working full-time! And one of the things I was involved with was--you guessed it--the ramifications of the turnover into 2000. Thankfully all of that is behind me, unless I happen to be reading an older book and it revolves around the fears at that time...there were some interesting books put out, mostly suspense/thriller that warned of what just might happen at that time!

Have you noticed however that books and movies involving the abilities of computers are realllllly much more involved that even 10 years ago? I'm reading one right now about Eden...a company that would put poor e-Harmony to shame! But at what price...ahhhh, that's the issue and I love reading what today's authors can conceive for the impact of computers on our lives--both good and bad, as all things are!

If you visit here at Book Reader's Heaven, you just might realize that this may be the first true "blog entry" from me! During the holidays as I was trying to catch up on the stack of books for which I had agreed to a review, I realized that the old saying applied--"too much of a good thing" just may be bad for you!

So, my new year's resolution is to take more time to socialize on the many social networks where I post... wow, that's kind of a mouthful... Not a new concept, you are "supposed" to socialize on social networks; however, my primary activities have been supporting my clients, placing my reviews wherever they might be active...and I will continue to do so, little by little.

One friend and client suggested I should charge for the posting...because the time involved is "a lot;" however, I enjoy doing it and going to the sites, I do become involved with the people as well...

Speaking of getting involved:

Thanks so much to all of my blog followers! I plan to find out about each of you in the future...but do know I am grateful for your taking the time to visit! I have started to follow some of you, but know there are others that I have free to make a point to invite me to your site or blog if you have one!

For your information, I also have a Twibe group, called Books--Reviews. I'm still trying to figure out the possibilities for sharing with that process, but it's fun learning! On Facebook, I have a Group called Reviewers Roundup...This is purely an informal method for authors and readers to come together, with an emphasis on authors being permitted to self-promote in any way possible.  We experiment, use discussion boards for anything and everything...use the "event" process to pull together author info, whatever comes to mind, we're trying it out...

In the right column of my blog, you will see a long posting list. I don't necessarily post to all of these, depending upon the book...but whenever an author is a member, I make sure I join and post for their book promotion.

Only one limitation for me on that...I do not post on any site where they ask that I give up my copyright for my reviews.

Some of you will notice I post about a lot of different things, about other sites...or have guests or spotlighted does that happen? Just by asking or sending me info...If it doesn't seem to work for my blog, I'll write back and tell you address is

Do you share info on other blogs. There is one ambitious lady that circulates a list--I've picked up a couple of book reviews through that process...but if you do book reviews, write poetry or short stories...need to spread the word with a news release....I'm game to help...

Only problem I have is my dial-up access...where I live (in my log cabin amongst 13 acres of woodland) does not provide me the ability to gain faster access. I don't even pick up my tv all the time so I just "grin and bear it." Or...fume and be frustrated...LOL

And...if your time permits...stop by and add a comment...they are allllllllways welcomed!

BRH Owner - Glenda, GABixler

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

Review: Guest Reviewer Janet Morris Grimes Shares Latest from Charles F. Stanley

How to Reach Your Full Potential for God
by Charles F. Stanley

Best selling author, Charles F. Stanley, has a knack for identifying areas of struggle for his readers. Through this particular book, he unleashes the power God intended for each of us, giving us permission to claim a better way of life for ourselves.

Stanley first identifies the traps that ensnare us, including low self-esteem, the fear of disappointment or failure, laziness, etc. It is important to recognize the chains that hold us back if we are to ever make changes that last forever.

Stanley goes on to reveal the steps God shared with him through a 3:00 a.m. encounter that changed his life. In order to reach their full potential, the reader must reconnect with his or her own gifts and God-given desires of the heart. He proclaims that the best is yet to come, an idea that seems foreign to many in this day and age.

I recommend this book for anyone whose dreams were long ago replaced with the expectations of others. If we are ever to accept God’s challenges, we must get past ourselves enough to recognize that we are a part of His plan, rather than God being a small part of our own plan for our lives.

Janet Morris Grimes
"Any day spent writing is the best day of my life..."

Link to Janet's site by clicking title of this review...

Tuesday, January 19, 2010

Exclusive US Preview: Arthur and Excalibur - Chapter 15!

Chapter 15


THE EVENING TURNED into a merry feast for all as the huntsmen had excelled themselves earlier with their tally. Many of the townsfolk joined them, bringing along a cartload of excellent ale, which was greatly appreciated by the weary soldiers. They must have emptied all their cellars to find so much, which indeed they had, as a token of appreciation for their salvation and the timely arrival of the King’s army. The singing and dancing carried on into the small hours until sleep finally caught up with them all, the horrors of the day having drained from them, with the help of the festive mood induced by good ale.

Late morning saw the camp gradually come to life, with a few sore heads, as the different groups prepared to move out and go their separate ways. The town elders and clerics arrived to renew their thanks once again. Men were already out in the meadow removing the Saxon carcases for burning and Arthur’s fallen warriors would be given a proper Christian burial close to the churches to remind all of their ultimate sacrifice in defending the town. Arthur graciously accepted their thanks, but reminded them it was not just his army that had delivered them from the Saxons, the Lord was with them and had responded to their prayers, providing the help that they needed at the right time. They asked if they could have one last look at his shield before he departed, which he duly obliged, holding it up for them to see. There were gasps as one said, 'but the picture of the Virgin Mary has vanished.' Sure enough when Arthur looked all that remained was the red cross on the white background, he was equally puzzled for it had still been there the night before.

“Gentlemen,” he confided, “we must conclude that it was a sign given to us to strengthen our resolve and put fear into the hearts of our enemies, and that is what it did, the vision will only appear when needed.”

The words seemed to come into his head as he spoke them, as if coming from a higher authority, not his words, as he did not understand what had happened either. No wonder Eudaf Hen had told him that he would know when to remove the cover from the shield. It would be a voice or thought that would spring into his head that would prompt him to do it, and he would not question it.

Looking at the townsmen he told them that they had witnessed a miracle to remind them of the power of prayer. With that he bade them farewell as he gave the command to move out, taking leave of King Esla, Lord Tryfig and Lord Forrester. Sir Agranaut and Sir Bedwyr were returning to Corinium with their troop and those from Glevum whilst Arthur was making directly south west for Cadbury, intending to revisit The Sanctuary at Avebury before they finally left the area. He was drawn to it but wasn’t sure why.

As the army neared Avebury, Arthur instructed Sir Kay to take command and continue in the same direction that they were heading, as he and Berius were taking a short detour to The Sanctuary and would catch up with them later. Sir Kay protested that he should take a troop with him as some of the Saxons had escaped and could be anywhere, but Arthur held up his hand to silence this warning, saying that it would not be necessary, they would be perfectly safe. The two of them rode away leaving Sir Kay a little bemused at the King’s action and apparent disregard for his own safety and that of Berius.

They approached along the centre of a straight avenue of giant stones. Arthur noticed that there were two distinct shapes to them and they alternated as if they were meant to be in pairs, not just within each row but opposing each other too. He queried this with Berius who pointed out that the tall rugged ones signified the male energy and the smoother slightly rounded ones the female energy, a perfect balance. Whichever way you looked there was a pair, male and female, the living Earth joined in harmony. He said that the world was once covered with giant markers like those until man became destructive and tore many of them down, seeking to blame them on the demise of the human race and the golden age. They couldn’t see that they only had themselves to blame, as greed and avarice took hold and spread like a disease amongst them. Luckily this little country of his had managed to preserve many of them, as the peoples' beliefs were strong, but even that waned to a degree and some fell into disrepair and were lost. Many however had survived, their energy as vibrant as ever.

They reach the impressive circle of The Sanctuary and dismounted. The air felt electric by comparison to the avenue, coursing through every inch of Arthur’s body, his whole being alive with energy, strong and bold but at the same time warm and gentle. Waves of it flowed through him. Even Excalibur, swaying with his movement, was humming and vibrating softly by his side, as the energies melded together in unison. The sensation was something that he could not describe, it was beyond words, not unpleasant, just strange until the body adjusted to it, then it seemed quite natural. He was subconsciously pulled slowly towards the centre of the stone circle, without any effort on his part. It was as if he was gliding towards the middle, feet hardly touching the ground. As he came to a stop the energy changed, appearing to come into his body from all direction, running down through his legs and into the earth, his senses heightened, everything appeared in sharp focus, crystal clear and vibrant. Pictures sprang into his mind, but as if in front of his eyes, various scenes played out before him. It took some while before he could piece them together and understand their meaning, then they faded and he felt the energy within him subside to a gentler level, the connection broken.

He stood quietly for some time absorbing the detail of what he had just experienced and seen, understanding more now of the mystical powers of Merlin and the Elders. They knew how to use this energy, connecting to the vibrations of the living Earth and being in many places at the same time without moving. Their vision taking them to wherever they wished to be to see what they needed to know, as if they were actually there. It was all so real and had shown him a glimpse of where trouble would next occur, not in a vague hazy dream with shadowy figures that could not be identified, but sharp and perfectly clear as a bright summers day. Surprisingly he did not doubt what he saw, the strength within him accepting it as a divine vision without question. He knew now where the next major Saxon assault would raise its ugly head, but he had plenty of time to prepare.

He looked at Berius, smiling. “That was an wondrous experience to be given, I understand a little more now how you, Merlin and others of your kind use the living Earth energies, working in harmony with them to great advantage to see the way forward.”

“My lord, you are shown these new things to help you, but only when the time is right, they cannot be rushed, everything happens when it should, and not before, you were ready for this revelation,” he replied.

“Yes,” Arthur answered, “I was drawn to return here, I knew something would happen, but knew not what. I feel a new energy after that experience and renewed hope that all will turn out well. There is still much that needs to be done, but by staying in touch with the energy of this land I can accomplish the task that I have been entrusted with, and my people will benefit for many generations to come. Let us rejoin the others.”

* * * * *

Their return to Cadbury was met with jubilation as befits a King returning from a successful campaign. Merlin and Taliesin were already there to greet them and had organised the welcoming feast with Greyfus, knowing in advance, as usual, Arthur’s arrival time. The King more aware now as to how they knew these things, something that had previously puzzled him, not all of the answer as their mystical talents were many, but hopefully he would learn more of their ways as time progressed.

The feasting lasted for two days during which Arthur spent considerable time with Merlin and Taliesin finding out the details of the slaughter at Bosham, and how the Saxons had caught them unawares. Apparently a local festival and been taking place and much ale had flowed, as was usual at such events. The Saxons had landed at night guided by a clear sky brightly illuminated by the full moon and caught them in their intoxicated slumber. Lookouts had either deserted their posts to join the festivities or fallen asleep, having acquired jugs of ale and over indulged, consequently no warning of the attack was raised until too late. Many were put to the sword where they slept, men, women and children, only a few on the outskirts of the landing area managed to escape into the countryside and raise the alarm, but by then the Saxons were pushing forward inland. Their goal important enough that they did not dally on the way, just slaughtering all they encountered as they moved forward, surprise on their side. Speed was important to them, to reach their target before they encountered any major opposition, as once there they would be in a good position to control the area by holding the major road junction until further soldiers were sent for. Luckily with Arthur’s intervention their plan failed and the Saxons lost yet another army in their attempts to expand their influence. This might make them rethink their strategy before attempting another thrust. It was a bold move on their part to try to penetrate deep into Arthur’s territory, but was always fraught with danger for them if further troops did not follow behind them. Merlin indicated that this was what they had intended. Many more keels were to follow with a second army, but they got caught in a violent storm at sea and most of the ships were lost. The few remaining barely managing to return to harbour quite badly damaged.

Arthur was surprised at this news, he had not thought that there would be others following so soon, but in hindsight it made perfect sense. The situation could have been much worse had the second army managed to land, his thinking had been flawed on that occasion, something else that he had learned. Arthur asked Merlin why he thought they were heading for The Sanctuary initially, as on seeing the place it had no strategic importance. Merlin smiled at this and told him that it was a place that the King had to visit as part of his education, but it was necessary that Arthur worked out the details himself of where the Saxons were really heading and why, another aspect of his learning, and he had passed the test admirably.

Arthur confided in him about his life changing experience at The Sanctuary, how he felt and the visions that he had concerning the next danger spots in the country and when they would occur. How great the strength of the Earth energies were that flowed through him, even affecting his sword. Merlin was greatly pleased by these revelations and said as much. Arthur was coming into his own more now, that was a good sign and he was being rewarded accordingly, as he allowed his strong caring character to develop in the right way, always for the benefit of his people and not himself. The rewards matched the effort that he was putting into his task and would continue to do so provided he did not waver in his resolve, but continued to fight for the good of all, laying the foundations for a better way of life. It would take many generations and there would be setbacks along the way but the impetus would be moving forward, no matter how slowly at times, Arthur was initiating the changes that were needed, and he would be helped in his task in many diverse ways. The King was grateful for the confidence that Merlin inspired in him, the wisdom of the ancients was always worthy of note and their assistance and guidance was greatly appreciated, it made his task that much easier.

* * * * *

Life at Cadbury settled into a relaxed routine throughout the rest of the year, many visitors passed through, paying their respects to the King, a few travellers stayed on, offering their services including Bedwini, bishop of Gwent. All were gratefully accepted. Sir Agranaut and Sir Bedwyr arrived, having decided to join Arthur, bringing with them several other lesser knights looking for adventure, and a steady stream continued throughout the year. Arthur took a small troop out on a regular basis visiting hamlets and villages across a wide area to keep in touch with the people. Receiving a warm welcome wherever he went, as he listened to their problems and resolved minor disputes in his usual fair and just manner. The people were solidly behind him as he showed that he cared about their welfare like no other King had done before, and he delivered on his promises, something that they were not used to. His reputation grew greatly and word spread far and wide amongst the peoples of the land. Not just for his deeds and success in battle against the Saxons, but because he was concerned for their welfare, he treated them all as equals, not as King and serfs.

Summer began the slow transition into autumn and the vivid colours of the landscape began to fade into darker hues as trees began to shed their leaves in preparation for the dormant period of winter. The harvests had been successfully gathered and stored, leaving the land looking barren and brown as it rested until the next sowing. Those animals that took shelter through the winter months hurriedly made their final preparations of food stocks and shelter, whilst others that would see the cold months through as they were, continued to graze the meadows. Life began its gentle run down to the restrictions of winter and Cadbury was no exception. The stock of provisions, ale, oil and wood, had been organised and checked by Greyfus as usual, with plenty to spare should it be a harsh winter, or they had an unexpected influx of people. Feed for the horses had not been forgotten either.

* * * * *

Arthur was not expecting trouble, and none occurred, as one year faded and another blossomed, a year that would be fraught with trouble if his visions were anything to go by, but forewarned was forearmed and he was confident that he would be in the right place at the right time to counter the onslaught. Time to make preparations and think through his plan of action. It was going to be a busy year, that would make or break the Saxon menace for some time, or see his undoing and all the good that he had accomplished so far. Winter was the time for this careful thought and he spent much of his free time doing just that. Sitting quietly subduing his everyday thoughts and allowing his mind to connect with his innermost feelings, seeking guidance for the way forward. He felt his energy vibrations change as he allowed this to happen, as his whole being connected to those Earth energies around him. Not strong like at The Sanctuary, but sufficient to be noticeable as they permeated through him in his relaxed state, producing a calm and stillness that encouraged clear thought.

By the end of the winter he knew exactly what he needed to do and summoned his commanders to explain some, but not all of his thoughts, as to where they would be going and why. Merlin and Taliesin had for once wintered with them. Although Arthur had not asked for their assistance or advice yet, as Merlin had said he needed to work out much himself, he was sure that they would comment if they felt he was wrong.

* * * * *

Spring was not quite upon them. There was still a chill in the air as they sat in the Great Hall with several logs fires blazing away, feebly attempting to bring some warmth into the vast expanse, failing miserably, but the red glow and dancing flames gave a comforting feeling to those present. Arthur explained that he had brought them together now because he was convinced that the Saxons would make a concerted effort that year to attempt to gain a strong foothold in their land. It was up to him and his army to stop them at all costs and push them back to their own territory with such a force that they would not bother them again in a serious way for some time.

The Saxons had tried unsuccessfully to breach their defences in the south and had lost many men in their forays, he felt that they would now switch their attention northward and attack the east coast, thinking that the King had his forces waiting in the south for the next onslaught. His information was that the most likely area would be in the vicinity of the City of the Legion at Eboracum [York], an area that Legionus knew well. It was a strategic fortification well defended, within a day and a half by foot from the coast, but even less if approached from the wide river in that area. He suspected that the Saxons would land a force to the north first in an attempt to draw the army quartered there away from the city. Then their main force would come from the south, having sailed up the river, and attempt to seize Eboracum, which would be only lightly defended. They would be waiting for them and yet again take them by total surprise and they would start to wonder how this King of the Britons kept turning up to confront them wherever they went.

Sir Drustanus asked what they were all thinking, how did Arthur know that he was not being lured there deliberately so that they could attack the south again, knowing that the King’s army was miles away chasing ghosts in the north. Arthur replied that he could never be totally sure but was guided by good information and his instincts, which so far had not let him down. Turning to Merlin he asked him for his comments and whether he had any information that was to the contrary. Merlin smiled at Arthur’s rhetoric and how he had refrained from saying where his information had come from, and told the audience that his information was basically what they had just heard. The Saxons were most likely to attack Eboracum, probably at the time of the spring tides when there was more water in the river. Arthur continued by stating that they would travel first to the other City of the Legion at Deva Victris [Chester] and show the King’s pennon there and enlist their aid. They would set forth in two weeks time. He asked if there were any questions and as none were forthcoming he concluded by saying they would meet again shortly before they departed to review the situation.

Merlin and Taliesin stayed behind with Arthur and Berius after the others had left and continued the discussion on the campaign plan, the King saying that he had a feeling that they might encounter some trouble at Deva Victris, but not necessarily from the Saxons. Merlin agreed saying that it was more likely to be Irish raiders that periodically attacked the coastal settlements in that area. Not in great force, but extremely disruptive none the less. He asked Arthur, even though he knew the answer, if there was anything that he required of Taliesin and himself whilst he was away. The King gave him a knowing smile as he replied that Merlin knew already, and that was for both of them to keep an eye on the happenings in the south and send their thoughts to Berius if anything major occurred that would require him to return immediately. If he had been mistaken in taking his army north when trouble was going to re-occur in the south. Arthur thought this unlikely although there was always a vague possibility, but needed to take every precaution to safeguard his people from the indiscriminate slaughter of the pagan Saxons. Merlin and Taliesin agreed and said that they would take their leave in the morning and go about their business in their normal way. Anything of note they would advise Berius of, otherwise they would see him on his return in a few months. They took their leave of Arthur, as he pondered those last words, both anticipated a long campaign, or other events would keep him away from there for that time, knowing too that it was going to be a busy year.

* * * * *

The King and his army left on time two weeks later, taking supply wagons with them on this occasion as they would be away for some while, too much for each man to carry individually. Greyfus had seen that they were well provisioned. They would follow the Roman roads where possible, heading for Corinium then Glevum before heading north to Viroconium Cornoviorum once again and finally Deva Victris. The journey would take nearly a week.

They made good time, arriving at Viroconium five days later where King Cadell elected to join them with thirty horsemen and a hundred foot soldiers as they continued their journey. As they made their way towards Deva Victris Arthur brought King Cadell up to date on the conflict with the Saxons at Durocornovium the previous year and the events that lead up to it. Cadell mentioned that word had reached them just before winter had set in, but there wasn’t much detail. Just that the King's army had again defeated the enemy, after the unfortunate slaughter at Bosham. That was dreadful news, all those poor souls just mercilessly killed by the pagans, forgetting that British kings had done the same to each other in the past.

The day passed and the next brought them close to Deva Victris when Berius broke his customary silence and suddenly spoke to Arthur warning him of trouble ahead, the animal noises had changed and he sensed the tension in the air. The King immediately summoned two of his men with orders to ride ahead and seek the signs of trouble, but to do so without being seen if possible. He himself had begun to feel a slight sense of unease just before Berius had mentioned it.

The riders soon reappeared with news that the city was some two miles ahead and was being attacked by a large group of foot soldiers, but they were too far distant to ascertain who they were although their garments looked different to those of King Cadell’s men. Irish raiders or Picts most likely commented Arthur summoning his commanders to him and advising them of the situation. The foot soldiers were to remain there and guard the supply wagons, They would break into their usual three troops as they got closer. Himself, King Cadell and Sir Kay with the lead troop, Legionus to the left flank with Sir Agranaut and Sir Bedwyr, Sir Bors to lead the right flank with Sir Drustanus and Sir Sagremor. The commanders gathered their troops and set off following Arthur towards the City of the Legion, ready to do battle.

As they galloped towards the city Arthur could see that the massive gate appeared to have been breached and hordes of warriors were fighting their way slowly in through the narrow entrance. The defenders giving way under the weight of those pushing forward, too many for them to keep at bay. Arthur gave the signal to his commanders to spread out into their positions as they thundered forward towards the enemy with their pennons flying, a mixture of Picts and other strangely garbed men.

The noise from nearly six hundred horses approaching at speed alerted those at the rear of the surging pack. Cries of alarm went up as they faltered, turning to face this unexpected threat. Arthur drew his sword and shouted ‘Excalibur,’ the blade immediately bursting into life cascading tongues of dancing white light towards the enemy. Shouts of dismay echoed at this phenomenon as their ranks broke and they began to scatter in fear, as Arthur and his army bore down on them. The troops under Legionus and Sir Bors spreading out to ensnare them. They rode into the scattering mass of bodies cutting them down at will as they tried to escape. Very few turned to fight, fear was consuming them, their only thought was of escape, but alas there was none, they were trapped.

Arthur’s troop fought their way to the gate, slowed by the greater concentration of men, some still pushing forward not yet aware of the threat behind them, whilst others were trying to flee the King’s onslaught. Arthur with Cadell by his side broke through the mass at the gate, his men forcing their way through with him and spreading out into the wide courtyard beyond. The city defenders had been pushed back to the buildings on the far side of the courtyard. Now with the arrival of Arthur the insurgents were trapped between the two factions, fighting for their lives. Arthur shouted to them to lay down their arms and go free, or die where they stood, Excalibur glowing brightly in his hand to reinforce his words. The High King of all Britain had spoken, they would not get a second chance.

Common sense prevailed as the clatter of many weapons falling to the ground confirmed. Arthur instructed Sir Kay to see that they were all searched for concealed weapons and to take fifty men and escort them several miles towards the coast, making sure that they did not retrieve any weapons from the battle field. If any tried to escape he was at liberty to put them to the sword. Arthur looked at the forlorn remnants of the enemy force and told them to inform their people that any further incursions into his lands would suffer the wrath of the King and be dealt with in a like manner. Sir Kay led them away, passed the hundreds of bodies of their fallen comrades that littered the battleground outside the gates, and the lifeless scattered bodies further out of those that had tried to escape. A timely reminder of the fate that awaited them should they return.

The commander of the city defences approached Arthur and identified himself, thanking him profusely for his timely intervention in what was a nasty situation that was rapidly turning against them. Arthur inquired how they had managed to breach the city gate which was more than capable of withstanding such an attack. The commander said that they had been caught unawares by deceit. Messengers had arrived supposedly from the King of Rheged requesting help as a large force of Irish had landed to the north. His lord, King Cadwallon Longhand of Gwynedd had responded and taken most of his forces to go to their aid, leaving just a small contingent to safeguard the city as it was well fortified. However they had been secretly infiltrated by several Irish supporters. When the enemy force arrived near the gate the guards were overpowered by five men and the gate opened to allow them in. Luckily one of the guards had escaped to give warning of this treacherous act and they quickly responded. It was too late to shut the gate and all they could do was to try and contain them but his men were losing ground when Arthur's army thankfully appeared on the scene. If the Irish had taken the city then his king would have returned to a trap and paid dearly for it and the Irish influence would have spread.

Arthur asked if they had apprehended the infiltrators. The commander responded that three had apparently been killed as the King forced his way through the gate and his men were searching out the other two and they would deal with them accordingly. Arthur said that he would withdraw his men and rejoin their supply wagons and pitch camp within a mile of the city and would be pleased to receive King Cadwallon on his return as he required his aid. The commander thanked him once again and said that it would be done, it was likely that his lord would return on the morrow as he had already sent a rider to recall him. Arthur gathered his men, rejoining Legionus and Sir Bors just as Sir Kay returned with his small troop and they headed back to their supply wagons.

The next day Arthur used as a rest day for his army and just let them relax whilst he waited the return of King Cadwallon. It would take them another week to reach Eboracum, but his vision at The Sanctuary indicated that he had a few days in hand before the Saxons invaded there.

It wasn’t until late afternoon that the king returned with his troops and shortly after rode out to meet Arthur, accompanied by his commander at the city. The King greeted him and invited them both to join his table as food had just been prepared and no doubt the king would welcome some after his abortive journey. King Cadwallon expressed his gratitude for Arthur’s timely arrival and stated that it would be a pleasure to share a hearty meal with him, as they both dismounted.

A lively discussion took place as they ate, concerning the events that had led to the king taking his men to help King Merchiaun of Rheged. It was something that happened fairly frequently, each helping the other when the Irish raiders landed in force and this occasion appeared no different. Cadwallon started to suspect that all was not well when the messengers that had travelled with them disappeared during the night. Then the following morning a rider appeared from the city requesting his immediate return. It would have been too late by then but thankfully Arthur and his army had arrived on the scene unexpectedly, and just at the right moment to thwart the attack, but how did that come to pass he inquired.

Arthur explained that he had received reliable information that a large Saxon army was planning to attack Eboracum on the spring tide at the end of the following week, that was where he was headed. His source also indicated that there was much trouble from Irish raiders in the area around Deva Victris and that Arthur would most like encounter some where his timely intervention and assistance would be required. His journey would also give him the opportunity to enlist aid to help repel the Saxon attack. King Cadell of Powys had joined with them as they passed through Viroconium and his aid was most welcome. King Cadwallon responded that the least he could do after the events there was to offer his services and join with Arthur and show a united front to the Saxons. He would also send word to King Merchiaun of Rheged and request that he join them at en-route at Melandra Castle two days hence. Arthur welcomed his assistance and any additional help from the King of Rheged would swell their numbers to a sizeable force, as the Saxon army was likely to be considerable in strength.

Cadwallon took his leave of Arthur to make arrangements for departure the following morning, remarking that there was a good Roman road all the way to Eboracum that would make their journey easier. Although they would encounter the high ground at Melandra for awhile. The group broke up to make ready for an early start the next morning.

The journey to Melandra Castle was easy going and they made good time. Cadwallon, good to his word had joined them on departure from Deva Victris with two hundred horsemen, a hundred foot soldiers and two supply wagons. Arthur’s army was beginning to look very formidable indeed. Even more so when King Merchiaun joined them at Melandra, with another two hundred men, as they began the long climb up through the valley between the massive peaks, before dropping down to the wide expanse of the dales the other side. Arthur took time to appreciate the rugged bleak beauty of the high ground and the total contrast as they dropped down into the lush green meadows stretching for mile upon mile into the distance. They rested frequently as the King knew that he had made good time and he needed his army fresh and fighting fit when they made their landfall. He felt it was going to be a difficult confrontation with the enemy in an area that he did not know.

* * * * *

Three days later brought them within sight of the massive fortified City of the Legion standing on a slightly raised plateau in the middle of the valley. Arthur stared in wonder at such a sight, it made Cadbury Castle seem insignificant by comparison. How did the Saxons think they could take such a place without a prolonged siege by a large army. Where was its weak spot? wondered Arthur. Legionus, as if reading the Kings thoughts had brought his horse alongside him.

“Impressive isn’t it,” he said, gazing at his former home, “but the river runs right through the centre of the city and a determined enemy could enter that way in small boats or on foot, it only comes up to a man‘s knees in most places. The archways over the river have to be high as the winter rains roar through the centre as the water pours down from the hills and would otherwise flood the whole city. The Saxons could bring their keels all the way from the sea up river as far as the village of Naburn, four miles south, as it is fairly deep and tidal up to that point, then rapidly shallows. However the city is surrounded by many marshy areas and they would need to be aware of those as they approached.”

“That’s very interesting Legionus,” Arthur responded, saying that he was searching for the weak point in the defences, and the answer was in front of his eyes all the time. Then asked him to indicate safe ground to pitch camp for the moment, as it wouldn’t be wise to approach the city in force, it might be mistaken for a hostile act. Legionus lead them half a mile off the road towards a gentle slope that was firm ground bordered by a belt of trees. Pointing out areas of marshy ground between them and the city that could be detected by their darker green colour and thicker grass and vegetation. No sooner had they stopped when Berius told Arthur that a group of horsemen were approaching from the direction of the city, no doubt to discover their intentions as they had obviously been seen by the city guards.

The horsemen brought their mounts to a stop before Arthur and the other kings and the one in the lead spoke.

“My lords I am Dubrovus of the Sarmatian legion, my Lord Peredur, Duke of Eboracum extends his welcome and wonders why such a large army camps close to the city. Do you travel far?”

“Thank you Dubrovus, I graciously return the welcome to Lord Peredur. I am Arthur, High King of Britain, King Merchiaun of Rheged, King Cadwallon of Gwynedd and King Cadell of Powys at your service,” as he indicated the others, “We have arrived at our destination in preparation for a Saxon attack against Eboracum. I have brought my army north to thwart it and we seek counsel with your lord on this matter.”

“My Lord I do not question your words or mean any offence but in these times we have to be careful, we do not know you in this region. My Lord Peredur would appreciate a sign of your lineage.”

“Well spoken Dubrovus,” replied Arthur, “I appreciate a man who is careful and diplomatic. Would you take the word of another Sarmatian?”

“Of course my lord, we are a people of honour,” Dubrovus answered.

“Good,” responded Arthur, “Then you would take the word of Legionus or any other of the two hundred Sarmatian cavalry that serve in my army?”

“My Lord Arthur, no words are necessary. If my old friend Legionus rides with you then you are indeed the High King of Britain, as he rode south with his troop to seek you out to offer his services.” he replied.

“My commanders and I will join you on your return to the city, if me may, to avail Lord Peredur of the situation as we see it and to seek his counsel,” requested Arthur.

“Indeed Sire, it will be my pleasure to enter the city in the company of four illustrious kings and their gallant lords. Lord Peredur will be greatly honoured to receive such a royal visitation,” Dubrovus stated.

The group set off for Eboracum with Dubrovus explaining the features of the landscape around the city, at Arthur‘s request. The course of the river with its marshy areas and the great forest that lay a few miles to the north, extending from the centre of the country almost to the east coast. People stopped and stared as they passed through the massive gates, their sombre glances suddenly turning to smiles as they recognised the Sarmatians in the group and a few called out to them by name, bringing a raised hand in response.

The meeting with Lord Peredur lasted for several hours as Arthur explained the situation to him and the information that he had been given (but not how it was given). The Saxons would launch an attack from the north to draw Lord Peredur’s forces after them before those that came up river in the south attempted to take the city. Peredur laughed at this saying it was nigh on impossible as the fortifications were designed to keep an army at bay, until Arthur pointed out that the weak point was the river running right through the city. A determined assault there might be difficult to contain. Once the Saxons had breached the defences they could pour into the city in vast numbers where it would be difficult to use the cavalry, it would be hand to hand fighting in the streets, they had to be caught in the open. Until they knew the size of the two Saxon armies it was difficult to plan a response so it was agreed to send scouts out in both directions to make visual contact with them and ascertain their numbers before drawing up a battle plan. Peredur suggested that Arthur move his army to a better position, one that Dubrovus would show him. A little more secluded and closer to the river whilst the King and his entourage accepted his hospitality there, ready to formulate a plan once the scouts reported Saxon movement. Sir Bors said that he would stay with the army and keep them in readiness for the signal to move, and so it was agreed. There were still three days before the spring tide and all they could do was wait, that gave Arthur time to see the city and check its defences and river exits.

* * * * *

If it hadn’t have been for Sir Bors they might have been taken by surprise. He had ridden along the river bank passing the quiet village of Naburn on the east bank, travelling leisurely southwards. Just absorbing the tranquil beauty of the swiftly flowing water gurgling its way upriver, when voices came faintly to him on the gently breeze. Moving away from the river towards the cover of the trees that adorned the bank on either side and had followed the line of the watercourse for several miles, he moved slowly forward, ears straining for any sound and eyes darting about, alert for any movement ahead. The voices came again, stronger this time and not in his native tongue either, harsh guttural words of the Saxons, and rounding a slight bend he was astounded. The river had widened out considerably there and it was full of Saxon keels. Several had run aground on either side, sailing too close to the bank and swung out blocking the river. Downstream more were making their way slowly forward towards the others, twenty in all that he could see before the river curved away again around another bend. They were large keels that could easily carry two hundred men each. This was a formidable force and there could still be more that were out of his field of vision at the moment. The Saxons had arrived early as the spring high tide was not due until the next morning.

Sir Bors sat still on his horse, hidden beneath the shadows of the trees, quietly watching the scene unfolding before him. He noticed that the river was running downstream now, the Saxons would not be going any further today in their keels. Sir Bors stayed for another hour silently watching the activity, his well trained horse hardly moving a muscle, before the Saxons began to make a move. They appeared to be disembarking on both sides of the river, mostly on the east bank but a considerable number this side too. It was time to make a move and take the news to Arthur. He eased his horse slowly back into the trees before he turned around and keeping under cover quietly left the scene, putting some distance between him and the Saxons before he broke out into the open at the gallop. He stopped opposite the village at Naburn and shouted across the river to attract attention, warning them to make for the city straight away as a large party of Saxons were making their way upriver on both banks not ten miles away. It would not pay to be there when they arrived, with that he galloped off towards the camp to raise the alarm and to the city to alert King Arthur.

Arthur was slightly perturbed at the news, as none of the scouts had reported back yet with any sightings, possibly because they had taken a direct route to a point further downstream and the Saxons were already behind them by then. But what of the scouts that went north, why no news? Arthur pondered this mystery for a few moments, then realisation came to him as he automatically held the hilt of Excalibur. They had all sailed together and were only going to separate into two forces after they had landed. The co-ordination between the two armies would be that much better and the timing of the attacks more certain. No doubt they would send scouts forward to check that Lord Peredur took his forces out of the city to chase those attacking settlements to the north.

Arthur gathered the kings and lords together and outlined his plan to them. He would bring his army into the city away from the prying eyes of the Saxons and await their move. The foot soldiers would guard the weak points where the river flowed through the city and the cavalry would be split into two factions. Sir Peredur would lead his army, together with Legionus and Arthur’s Sarmatians, northwards when news of the Saxon advance in that direction reached them. Arthur would wait with the remainder of his army, out of sight within the city, until the Saxons to the south made their move and tried to breach what they thought would be a sparsely guarded city. Most likely as the day faded gently into twilight and before darkness took a hold of the land. That was the time when men were normally weary and guards less observant. A good time for a surprise attack, and hours after the main army had departed on their fool's errand. So it was agreed and Sir Bors hurried off to camp to bring the army into the city. Then it was a question of just waiting and watching as a steady trickle of people arrived from Naburn and other outlying hamlets, seeking the protection of the great walled city.

Life began as normal the following day, people went about their business as usual, but there was an air of anticipation hanging over the city. All knew now of the threat that was hanging over them, many had been through this situation before, but they felt safe within the confines of the fortifications, built to withstand a siege. It was not until noon before there was flurry of activity as several horsemen arrived in quick succession, the scouts from the north returning with their news. A large Saxon army had been spotted just south of the ancient Galtres forest and they were headed towards the city, but did not appear to be in any hurry. Arthur decreed that it was time to put the plan into action and Sir Peredur gathered his mounted army and an hour later left the city at the gallop, the great gates booming together behind him as they were quickly secured. Arthur had directed that he did not engage them fully, whatever their strength, but to harry them and probe their ranks. Picking them off one by one before pulling away to repeat the action again, wearing them down slowly. Giving ground a little but containing them, until he could hopefully join the fray with the rest of the army, once he had dealt with the Saxons there.

The sun was beginning to fade before the first movement was detected on the landscape. The great ball of fire sinking slowly behind the rugged outline of the hills in the west, casting long shadows wherever its dwindling rays touched. The Saxons made their move, coming out of the shadows and advancing rapidly towards the city, along the line of the river. Arthur, waiting patiently with his cavalry gave the order for the gates to be opened and they poured forth to spring their surprise, and indeed it was. The Saxons had not expected to be confronted by such a large number of horsemen, their scouts had indicated that a major force had left the city hours earlier and had not returned. Where had these men materialised from? they wondered as the King and his men galloped towards them. The Saxon ranks wavering in indecision, should they stand and fight or proceed with all haste towards their goal where the river exited the city. Some turned to fight but their leaders were urging them forward, reminding them why they were there and that they had the strength of greater numbers. Their army was splitting into two, those engaging Arthur’s men trying to hold him at bay, whilst the others made for the weak point in the fortifications. Only to be confronted by a determined force of foot soldiers barring their way. The water flowed red as Arthur and his men swept amongst the Saxons repelling their attack and pushing them across the river as they began to scatter and flee, heading northwards.

The sun had almost disappeared as they pursued them, sinking behind the hills, just leaving a red glow as if the Earth was on fire. An eerie feeling pervaded the landscape as the full moon started to exert her influence in response, bathing the scene with a pale luminescence that gradually grew in strength. Arthur and the cavalry had slowed their pace in the reduced light but continued to pursue the remnants of the enemy, who were making for the forest. Stragglers were quickly dealt with as they encountered them.

Fires began to twinkle in the distance, the other Saxon army or Sir Peredur, they would soon find out as they drew closer towards them, ready for an immediate response should it be the former. It soon became clear that it was Sir Peredur and his men, camped as if guarding the forest, into which the Saxon horde had disappeared. He was delighted to see Arthur and the others and indicated that there were several thousand of the enemy and they had taken refuge in the forest.

They had been almost reluctant to fight and slowly gave way as Sir Peredur and the Sarmatians had attacked them, retreating to the trees for protection. Arthur told him that they had deliberately done that to lure him away from the city until it had been taken, but they would know now that their guise had failed as the remnants of their other force had taken refuge there too. They would probably try to escape back to their keels in the dead of night when most of his army would be in their slumber, the difficult question was how to prevent that happening. He excused himself from the others saying that he needed to give the problem some thought and wandered off to a quiet spot with Berius, as usual quiet and unobtrusively by his side.

Arthur sat quietly on the remains of a fallen tree, struck by lighting at some point in the past. Not yet dead as it was still rooted to the ground, but its life force fading slowly over the years until it would soon give up, yet some of its energy would remain in the form of the young sapling growing tenuously close by. All this passed through Arthur’s mind as he sat, his hands curled around the hilt of Excalibur as he allowed its energy to meld with his and bring clarity of thought, feeling warmth from the old tree that was surprising. The old in its wisdom giving way and nurturing the next generation. What did that remind him of from his younger days?

He turned to Berius suddenly and said without thinking, “are there any bears in this forest?”

“Yes my Lord,” Berius answered. “This is an ancient forest that has been the home of bears for many generations, it is their ancestral home and although their stock has depleted over the years many still live here. Your name is known to them through the caring deed you showed one of their kind when you were a young lad, they do not forget such a rare thing from a human. Do you seek their help in this matter?”

“Yes Berius, it came to me sitting here that they can help by putting fear into the Saxons to the extent that they flee the forest. To force them out into the open before the night is out, right here so that we can deal with them and stop them escaping, just to return again. Do you think they will be willing to aid the King?”

The answer Berius gave surprised him. “I will go and ask them my Lord. I am sure that they will agree, you are a King in their eyes too, they know you are very different to other humans, I will not be long,” with that he disappeared into the night without a sound, except that Arthur thought he heard the gently beating of a bird’s wings in the distance, an owl or some other night creature perhaps.

Arthur sat in silence for what seemed an eternity before Berius suddenly reappeared, as silently as he had left, a smile on his face and with good news.

“The bears do not like the Saxons as they kill indiscriminately, they are willing to assist the King in removing them from their forest. As they remember the kindness that you showed to one of them in the past, in fact he is currently the elder here. It will take them four hours by my reckoning to call on sufficient of their number to make such a noise that it will strike terror into the hearts of the Saxons and make them flee the forest. Most of them appear to be in the vicinity of where we are, but the bears will cast a wide net to drive them this way. The dark of the forest will help generate fear in them and it will appear as if there are thousands of bears on the rampage.”

“Thank you Berius, that is magnificent news, I must warn the army and have them prepare for battle.”

Arthur returned to the camp fire and gathered the kings and commanders together and outlined what was going to happen and how they would respond. The group were astonished at those revelations and looked on Arthur and Berius in a different light from then on. Enlisting the aid of animals was something only spoken of in ancient tales, when many men had mystical powers and used them to great advantage. Now their High King and his sword keeper were making new stories to be told, ones that would generate new deeds and perhaps awaken that ancient knowledge once again.

“It is not ideal to fight at night,” Arthur said, “but tonight the full moon is casting more light than is usual at this time of year, with a cloudless sky sparkling in a vast array of twinkling stars that it appears almost like a dull sunless day, we should take this as a good omen. The Earth and nature working in harmony with man, as used to be the way until the human race lost its direction. Tonight will show that we haven’t totally forgotten how it should be and that we are willing to re-learn what the ancients always understood. We will mount up in two hours and spread out in a new moon formation with kings and lords to the fore to show we mean business and show our crests. Let the Saxons disgorge from the forest before we attack, Excalibur will be the signal.”

The combined army of Arthur and the kings waited patiently, spread out in the agreed formation just half a mile from the edge of the forest, the night was clear and silent, not a breath of wind stirred the trees, their leaves totally motionless.

Almost to the minute that Berius had indicated the peace of the night was instantly shattered by a spine chilling roar, others followed immediately, then more, the ground seemed to shake, the noise was horrendous. Leaves rustled, trees swayed and the noise grew, startled birds took to the air, confused by the cacophony of noise that was emanating from the ancient forest, it was just as if all the trees had come alive too at that same moment. Even the normally docile horses of the cavalry were beginning to twitch and so were their riders, the noise was tremendous, something was bound to happen; it did. The forest suddenly disgorged hundreds upon hundreds of Saxons, fear etched deeply on their faces as visions of dragons and giants gripped their lucid imagination in the dark confines of the forest as they fled in sheer terror.

Arthur waited until the flow of bodies from the trees eased, then raising his sword boomed out ‘Excalibur’ in a voice that he didn’t recognise as his own. The affect was instantaneous, brilliant white light burst from the blade, illuminating the whole landscape, darts of the light burst upon the enemy as tongues of red fire shot from the mouths of the serpents that formed the guard. The Saxons had fled from the forest consumed with terror, now they were petrified as they saw Arthur and the kings bear down on them, the blazing sword at the front striking down all that were in the way.

The fighting was fierce, the Saxons were hemmed in by the forest behind them that still reverberated with tremendous noise, a magical sword and cavalry to the front, and nowhere to escape, they were doomed. The battle lasted an hour. An hour full of sheer terror and death for the Saxons before they finally succumbed. A few escaped into the forest as the lesser of two evils, but none were seen again, and a handful managed to disappear into the night totally traumatised. The land was covered in blood stained bodies, not all were Saxons, the kings had lost men too, but few by comparison.

Arthur surveyed the scene, the bears had done a very good job, motioning to Berius to join him he rode towards the forest, stopping just short of the trees as several bears ambled out from concealment of the thick foliage.

“Berius can you convey to the bears what I am about to say?” Arthur asked.

“Of course my lord, although you could, just by thinking the words from your heart,” Berius replied.

Arthur relaxed as he sent his thoughts out to them thanking them for their valour and help in removing the Saxons, their intervention was greatly appreciated and would be rewarded. Then turning around to face his army he raised his sword as he let his words carry to them.

“Now hear this, I Arthur, High King of Britain do declare that the ancient forest of Galtres is from this day forward and for as long as I live the sacred domain of the bears, they shall not be hunted or taken captive for any reason, upon pain of death. This is their domain and so it shall remain, under the King’s protection, any that use this forest shall respect the habitat of the bears, they have full royal rights in its use and are answerable to no one except the High King, that is my command.”

Berius had communicated this to the bears by his thoughts and as Arthur finished they gave a roar and thumped their chests in gratitude. Arthur saluted them with his sword and slowly turned his horse and moved away, stopping momentarily to turn, as he raised his hand to the majestic creatures in a gesture of peace and friendship.

This concludes Chapter Reviews...

Monday, January 18, 2010

Review: YA Fantasy Intriguing and Suspense!

The Hollow

By Jessica Verday
Simon Pulse
ISBN: 9781416978930
515 Pages

What an intriguing story! Based on the title, I assumed The Hollow by Jessica Verday was going to have some relationship to Washington Irving's The Legend of Sleepy Hollow. It is so much more!

First, even though this is marked YA, fantasy and romance readers will also enjoy it, just as I did. The book kept me in suspense from early in the book and when it somewhat abruptly ended--too soon--I was immediately grateful that there was going to be more!

Several special points should be highlighted immediately. At the beginning of each chapter, there is a quote by Irving. Additionally, the book is set in the town where the Legend was born and so there is a constant flow of information and discussion about the characters in that book. Additionally, the book itself has been beautifully covered and printed. This is a book you'll want to keep as part of your home library! I'm hoping that this is a first in a series that just could be as popular as that set of books coming out of England, but this one featuring one of America's most memorable legends.

The story opens with a sad event--Abbey's best friend, Kristen, has disappeared and is presumed dead. In fact, they decide to proceed with a funeral for Kristen, burying an empty coffin. Abbey refuses to accept her death, and more, she can't figure out why Kristen had been out alone, on the bridge where she apparently fell. Both girls had agreed that they would never go there alone!

Abbey and Kristen had been so close that they didn't have many other friends, so it is hard for Abbey to go back to school, especially when some of the students feel she is "playing" her grief to get favor from the teachers. Abbey goes from deep heartache to anger and back to grief constantly so that her parents begin to worry about her. Abbey spends many hours wandering on her own, visiting the graveyard across the street and all the other places she and Kristen had once routinely visited. It was there she met Nikolas, an elderly "grandfather" taking care of Irving's mausoleum and she offered to help him. Later she met this wife Katie in a beautiful little cabin just on the other side of the cemetery from where she lived.

She had met Caspian at Kristin's home during the funeral. She had retreated to the basement where she and Kristan had often gone to be alone and there, in the shadows, Caspian spoke to her. Later they met under the bridge and once in the library. They had never gone on a date but Abbey's feelings for him grew deeper.

Abby also suddenly got a part-time job with her Uncle Bob, who owned an ice-cream parlor where she could have all of the samples she wanted. With new friends, school, work, and trying to create new perfumes, she was little by little able to move on with her life. Until she found Kristen's diaries and discovered she'd had a secret life she'd never shared with Abbey!

This is one of the most beautiful stories I've read. Touches of fantasy, the paranormal, true friendship, and family love are heartwarmingly shared in a story that truly compliments the work of Washington Irving and in some ways surpasses it...

Highly recommended for those 12 and older! Fans of Ghost Whisperer? A Must-READ!

G. A. Bixler

Exclusive US Preview: Arthur and Excalibur - Chapter 14!

Chapter 14


ARTHUR DID NOT SLEEP WELL, his mind kept wandering to what Igraine had said, that she suspected that Morgause was with child when she married King Lot. His mother had given him a questioning look when she mentioned it, as if she knew that her son was the father of the child, which it seemed likely that he was. Morgause had seduced him with gay abandon without thought of the consequences and he had allowed it to happen, his own half sister, although he wasn’t aware of their association at the time. Not just allowed it to happen but taken control of the situation and given her more than she had been expecting, turning the tables on her. The timing was about right according to what his mother had said, no wonder Morgause was in a hurry to marry Lot, she was trying to hide her condition and needed a man quickly, one that she could manipulate and make out that the child was his. A dangerous scheming woman, and what was the meaning of her riddle he wondered, was it a warning or a threat, you never knew with Morgause. All he knew was that she wasn’t happy about losing the battle of words after their passionate encounter, going by the way that she stormed off.

He drifted off into a dream state, but that was no better, he had a feeling that something bad had happened in the south whilst they were dealing with the Saxons at Viriconium. Was he led that way deliberately? whilst the enemy attacked from behind. His dream was vivid as he saw great slaughter and death sweep suddenly, without warning, on a sleepy fort by the sea and continue inland. The pain and anguish on people's faces as they realised no help was at hand. He tried to concentrate, seeking to identify the location, but to no avail, all he could hear was the cries of the people shouting his name in desperation, but he couldn’t reach them in time, he was too far away.

He awoke suddenly, bathed in sweat, with Berius shaking his shoulder asking him if he was alright, as he appeared to be having a bad dream and calling out. Arthur moped his brow and shook his head to try and clear it, answering that he was greatly disturbed and felt that something bad had occurred in the south of the country. Merlin appeared at that moment, attracted by voices. On hearing Arthur’s words commented that he had felt the same vibrations and sent his vision out far and wide to determine the cause, what he saw was indeed bad news. The Saxons had landed in force that night using the clear night sky, illuminated by the soft glow of the full moon to steer their way safely to shore. The inhabitants of Bosham, close to the old derelict Roman Palace at Fiseborne, and right on the waters edge were taken totally by surprise and did not have chance to defend themselves. The slaughter was terrible, all were put to the sword as the Saxon horde swept through the village and other hamlets that they passed on the way, as they headed inland in a north west direction. The attack was so swift and unexpected that no signal beacons were lit, therefore no warning of their coming or arrival had been given, and the south slept unaware of the extreme danger that they were in.

“Indeed that is grave news,“ Arthur commented, “we are several days ride away from them, unable to bring help in their hour of need and too far to warn others of the impending danger. Merlin do you have contacts in that area that you could communicate with in your mystical way? Enough to at least give warning that a large Saxon army is on the rampage and to do what they can until we can reach them.”

Merlin pondered this for a moment before replying, “I will do my best, but there are only a few that are receptive to our way of communicating, where they are and whether they will understand sufficiently is another matter. When I have done that Taliesin and I will take our leave of you and make haste south, we can travel fast when we have need. It puzzles me what the Saxons intend and what their objective is, other than to create as much turmoil as possible whilst you are being kept busy elsewhere.”

“I had wondered that,” answered Arthur, “I get the feeling that I was drawn north deliberately to allow them the advantage of establishing a stronghold on the coast, but why have they moved inland, thus making themselves vulnerable to attack from my forces. It is a puzzle at the moment but no doubt will become clearer as time progresses. I do not think it is just to cause dissent in the area because I am not there to protect the people, there is a deeper motive I am sure, but that alludes me for now.”

Merlin made to leave, “I will waken Taliesin and we will be on our way, head for Glevum then take the old Roman road to Corinium and gather what extra men you need,” he instructed the King, “any news that we have will be sent to Berius, mark his words carefully they should lead you in the right direction. Good luck.”

With that Merlin melted into the night and soon Arthur heard two horses depart the camp as they set off on their errand. He realised that he hadn’t challenged Merlin on his precise location of the attack being at Bosham, how could he be so positive, that was days away from there. Another of his mystical talents that he must ask him more about. How could he see that distance he was only human, or was he, did the Elders belong to a totally different race that was superior to the rest of them? He would enquire of Berius and see what he could glean from him as he was one of them, but then he would undoubtedly only divulge what was allowed and necessary, going by an earlier conversation with him. They appeared to operate by a different code of conduct, as if they should not overly interfere in events that were happening, just act as ambassadors and advisors when necessary. A quiet race were the Elders, just listening and observing most of the time, until asked for advice, then they would share their wisdom and knowledge as befitted the occasion, but Arthur wondered how much they knew that was never said. As Merlin had once said, they had the power to change the world but were forbidden to use it, that must be accomplished by the people themselves, otherwise they would never learn. Arthur was greatly appreciative of their help, without which he knew his task of uniting the country in peace and prosperity would be very difficult and prolonged, but there was still a great deal to do and a long way to go. He would have a few hours rest whilst it was still dark, then gather his army and follow the route that Merlin had indicated to him. He smiled to himself, more of a command than a suggestion. When Merlin spoke, you listened, whatever knowledge or insight that he had he was rarely wrong, it was as well to take notice and act accordingly. Arthur raised his eyes skywards sending a silent prayer of thanks that Merlin and the Elders were with them and not the enemy.

The journey to Glevum was short and Arthur and his commanders sought out the local lord, a Duke no less, and appraised him of the situation stressing that the Saxons, although some days away, were apparently heading in that direction and more soldiers than he had at his command might be needed to stop them. The Duke wanted to know how many of the enemy there were and how sure Arthur was that Glevum was their destination. The King told him that the information that he had was good and there were several thousand Saxons on the rampage. Although he was not sure of their ultimate target there were very few places en-route that were of strategic importance, other than there and Corinium, which was his next stop. The Duke pondered on the situation for a moment, then agreed to gather what men he could spare to join the King’s army, but that he himself would not be able to join them as he was suffering from a malaise that prevented him from riding. He would however send a good commander with them as at times the men could be a little unruly, although stout at heart, all they needed was a firm hand to keep them in order. Arthur expressed his thanks as the Duke invited them to rest awhile and take some sustenance whilst he made the arrangements.

Several hours later Arthur and his commanders took their leave of the Duke with nearly one hundred and fifty foot soldiers led by a surly looking individual called Fergus, snarling his orders at them to watch their manners before the King. Arthur smiled to himself, I hope he doesn’t try to treat any of my men like that, he thought, he would bring on himself a great deal of grief if he did, but maybe it is time for him to learn how to treat people and not try and use fear as a weapon. It would be a good idea to keep an eye on him, lest he caused trouble amongst the men. They rejoined the main army and headed out of Glevum following the Roman road as it climbed steeply to the top of the escarpment and then headed directly towards Corinium some ten miles away. The foot soldiers led the way as they were slower and would not have to continually eat the dust that the horses threw up behind them. It also gave Arthur the opportunity of keeping an eye on them and identifying those that might be the cause of trouble. He had learnt much in his short life so far, one of the most important lessons being that he could distinguish between those that were likely to cause trouble and those that would not, it had become an inbuilt instinct that had served him well.

They set up camp on the outskirts of Corinium and once again Arthur and his commanders set forth to enlist further aid, returning some while later with the promise of whatever men could be assembled by the morning would go with him. He could feel the underlying tension around the camp area of the Duke’s men and resolved to go and speak with them before it spread to the rest of the camp. It was not good to allow that sort of feeling to grow as it eventually affected everyone and would diminish the effectiveness of his army. Sir Kay and Gelda said that they would like to accompany him and Arthur agreed, Sir Bors seeing the look Gelda gave him remarked that he had already seen the King in action, to his cost, when they first met.

The three of them silently approached the Duke’s men and it was obvious a heated exchange was taking place by the raised voices. Fergus was giving a young lad a verbal onslaught, but several others were telling him to back off and leave the lad alone.

“He shouldn’t be here anyway,” one said, “with his mother being so poorly.”

“That was none of their business,” was the retort. “He’s here because I told him to be.”

“Threatened him more likely,” came another voice from the crowd.

“Any more nonsense from you lot,” Fergus exploded, “and I’ll run someone through.”

“Is that why you didn’t give the lad a sword?” came another voice from deep in the crowd, “in case he ran you through.”

This comment brought peels of laughter from the group and infuriated Fergus that much that he was on the point of drawing his sword when Arthur stepped forward into his line of vision.

“What’s all this about Fergus?” Arthur inquired. “Why is the lad here if his mother is poorly? He should be at home with her, not here. What reason did you have for bringing him?”

Fergus was flustered, he hadn’t realised the King had been listening and stuttered in reply, as he looked menacingly at the lad, “because he asked to come.”

“Fergus you are not a very good liar (the crowd drew in their breath at this), you didn’t even give him a sword. What’s he going to do when we meet the Saxons, throw stones at them?” Arthur replied with a hint of sarcasm in his voice.

The crowd laughed nervously at this, knowing that Fergus had a short but vile temper and was likely to explode at any time, nobody had spoken to him like this before and got away with it, even the Duke was wary of him.

Arthur spoke gently to the boy, “come over here lad and tell me your story.”

He led the young lad some distance away and heard how Fergus had wanted his mother but she had spurned him, not liking his violent temper. Fergus persevered, to no avail, then his mother became ill and refused to see him and he ranted and raved about all the nasty things that he would do to them both, and his mother’s health declined even more. When Arthur arrived and Fergus was sent for he saw a way of getting even with the lad’s mother threatening him that if he didn’t go with the King he would see that his mother suffered a broken heart and a slow death. The lad did not want that to happen, so agreed, even though Fergus said he could not have a sword until he had learnt that it was not wise to upset him.

Arthur and the boy made their way back towards the group just as the action occurred. Gelda had moved closer to Fergus and was just staring at him, which unnerved him. He was wondering what a woman was doing with the army, then a smile broke across his face and he uttered a vile comment. Next moment he was doubled up in agony as she kicked him hard in the groin and then smashed her fist into his face, splitting his nose wide open so that blood spurted all over him, as she sent him tumbling back the other way to land flat on the ground with her sword at his throat. She asked him if he wished to repeat what he had called her? Through the mist of pain searing through his body he had the sense to shake his head as best he could. She relieved him of his sword and stood up to see the stunned look of amazement on the faces of the crowd.

“In my country,” she said with a voice full of pride, “women fight alongside their King, and we are good, if you don’t believe it come and test your pride against me,” and with that comment she walked slowly away.

Arthur and the boy stood looking down at a very pathetic looking Fergus, cowering in the dust. “That is what happens if you insult one of my soldiers,” the King said to him, “no matter who they are or where their home lies they fight for the good of this country and I have the honour of leading them as their King, do not trifle with them, you are not in their league.” Turning to the crowd he said that Jonas, as the lad was called, had appraised him of the situation. “If any of you men have been threatened or coerced by this pathetic excuse of a man (indicating Fergus) to come on this journey, then you may return to your homes in the morning. I need men to help me with the fight against our enemies, but they must be willing and able, capable of using a sword and not afraid of dying if that be the case. If you cannot find it in your heart to put your life on the line for your country, then you will be a danger to yourselves and your comrades around you. There is no disgrace if you feel this way, I and your neighbours will not think any less of you if you wish to return home, whatever the reason that lies behind your decision, you are all free men and are entitled to free will and choice, that is universal law. However as your King, responsible for seeking to bring peace and prosperity to our country, I willingly forego that choice to accomplish my task. That my friends is my choice in life. Think on my words and those that wish to leave gather here at sunrise and return, like Jonas, to where you are needed the most.” Looking down at Fergus, who was still moaning gently with the pain that refused to subside he said, “you, my little man will accompany us in our fight against the Saxons, with or without your sword, that depends on your attitude and behaviour before we encounter them.”

Arthur bade them goodnight and returned to his own area taking Jonas along with him as he did not trust Fergus one little bit, that man was nasty through to the core and was unlikely to change.

The crowd were quiet for sometime, reflecting on the event that they had just witnessed and the speed with which it occurred. Instant retribution for Fergus, and by a woman at that, but what a woman, good figure, attractive and deadly, not one to pick an argument with. Neither had they heard a lord or a king speak in the manner that they had just listened to, a young lad himself, speaking with the wisdom of an elder and passionate about protecting his country from its enemies. This was indeed something new for these men and stirred their hearts, just as Arthur knew his words would do, creating that feeling of wanting to be part of the fight for freedom under a leader such as the King. The fear and apprehension that Fergus had fed constantly had subsided to be replaced by a personal pride and determination that they wanted to do their part in securing a good future for their families. It was in their hands to help if they so wished, and the majority did.

At sunrise only ten men appeared in Arthur’s camp wishing to return home, their spokesman saying that none of them had ever used a sword or any other weapon. Listening to the King’s words of the previous night they realised that they would be a liability to everyone. They felt awkward leaving their neighbours, some of whom they might not see again. Arthur raised his hand and told them that they had made the right decision, not just for themselves but all the others as well, he wished them well and asked them to see that Jonas returned safely to care for his ailing mother, and that there was no need to inform the Duke of their return.

Not long after the small group departed a contingent of eighty men arrived from Corinium headed by two knights on horse introducing themselves to Arthur as Sir Agranaut and Sir Bedwyr. Arthur extended a welcome to them and introduced his commanders to them. Their eyes rose a little at meeting the Sarmatians, for they had not encountered them before and even more surprised at seeing women amongst them, but they kept their counsel. Arthur told them that the Sarmatians were the best cavalry unit in the country, including the women. Then explained that they were hoping to intercept a large warband of Saxons that had landed on the south coast and made their way inland heading in their general direction, but their destination as yet was unknown.

Turning to Berius Arthur inquired if they had any more news yet and he replied that they should head slightly south east for Avebury as Merlin felt that they could be heading for The Sanctuary. A renowned spiritual and religious centre, close to the village, that was viewed by many as the heart and soul of this country. The energy vibrations that emanated from that site were like the beating of a strong heart uplifting all in its vicinity with an immense feeling of love and belonging to the spirit of the living Earth. No wonder it had a long history of being a very special place for the peoples of this country, it might be that the pagan Saxons wished to strike a blow at the heart of the Briton’s culture and destroy it, claiming it was the will of the gods to punish the people for turning to the one God.

The name of Merlin intrigued Agranaut and Bedwyr as they had heard his name mentioned in many places but had not met him, thinking that perhaps he was just a myth. Certainly not a myth, Arthur corrected them, very much flesh and blood like they were and he was currently trying to locate them, along with Taliesin, and lead him to them. They looked at each other mystified and asked how the King received this information, as they were so far away. Arthur smiled and told them that they communicated news to Berius in their own mystical way. He ended the discussion by saying that it was time to move out, asking if any of them knew how far away Avebury was. Agranaut replied that it was about twenty five miles, following the Roman road towards Calleva Atrebatum then leaving it near Liddington Castle and heading southwest along the Ridgeway, they should make it well before the day was out.

The Romans had constructed many roads throughout the country to link the major administrative centres and they tended to run straight, taking the shortest route, and this one was no exception. The pace was slower than Arthur was used to as normally his army had just been the cavalry units, but now they had to travel at the speed of the foot soldiers who lead the way. Arthur had told a very subdued Fergus to stay at the back of them and just in front of the horsemen so that he could keep and eye on him, any trouble that he caused would be dealt with as swiftly and painfully as Gelda had done. Fergus was not a happy man and still in some considerable pain but Arthur had decided to let him suffer and experience what he had dealt out to others. He was aware that further trouble was likely to ensue at some point as Fergus was the type of person to harbour a grudge and seek his vengeance, but the King was prepared for that and willing to give him the chance to redeem himself.

The journey was without incident, the army resting briefly near the site of the old Liddington Castle, long since abandoned, before striking southwest along the Ridgeway to Avebury. Arthur felt the difference in the air as they approached the hamlet, calm and peaceful but with a vibrant energy about the place. He mentioned this to Berius, who as usual was travelling quietly by his side, and was told that what he felt was the great Earth energies coming together and meeting at The Sanctuary. Something that was understood by the Celt and Druid leaders and many others before them, and now appreciated by Christian followers. The place brought nature, the Earth and people together as one and would bring great dismay if defaced by the Saxons, it was embedded in the culture of the Britons going back through many generations, a sacred place. It could not be destroyed by man alone but the special nature of that area could be changed totally if violated by the Saxons and their destructive energy. The balance would be disturbed and the Britons would feel as if they had suffered a savage blow to the heart of their historical roots. As they came in sight of The Sanctuary Arthur sent a rider ahead to call the foot soldiers to a halt and make camp whilst he took his commanders ahead to survey the lie of the land.

Arthur could feel the energy increase as they came closer to the great stone circles, it seemed to draw him forward towards those giant stone megaliths, standing like silent sentinels in perfect array. Some parts partially roofed and the rest open, but all extending a warm welcome to weary travellers. I wonder who built this, and what it was intended for. It bore no resemblance to a church of any kind and the openness of it all showed that whoever was responsible was not attempting to contain the energy but let it flow naturally in all directions. Perhaps that was its secret, just a marker to show the people that many different energies met here and combined into a greater force that then spread in all directions across the land. Just like a giant spider's web that reached out to other energy junctions spreading across the country, and maybe even further, linking up all the Earth energies as it expanded, thereby keeping the flow constant. The living Earth that survives and breathes because of it, that connects each and everything in our world, no doubt Merlin understands this and uses the energy for his apparent mystical ways, that would explain a lot. Where are these thoughts coming from? he wondered, is it because I am the bearer of the sword or because I have a hidden understanding of these matters, whatever the reason the feelings are good and I give thanks for this knowledge which eases my burden greatly.

His thoughts were interrupted by Sir Bedwyr indicating the avenue of smaller megaliths that headed in the direction of the hamlet some distance away. Arthur led his troop along this to more stone circles, amongst which a few huts were scattered, pausing to enquire from an old gent, wrapped in a Druid robe and reclining against one, if what they saw was the extent of the hamlet or were there other huts further out. The old man replied that what they could see was all that there was, only those that tended the area lived there, most folk found it a strange place and would only visit at certain times of the year. Arthur thanked him and headed his troop back towards their camp with the feeling that surely the Saxons would not expend their effort there, as there was very little that they could do, other than kill a few people and pull down some stones. They would violate the energy, but Arthur felt that it was strong enough not to be permanently damaged, and how many people would realise that they had been there. Their real destination must be elsewhere, but not far away. He must gather what information he could from Agranaut and Bedwyr about the area and look for somewhere that would be of strategic importance to the Saxons.

Back in camp he gathered his commanders and put the problem to them, checking with Berius if there was any further news from Merlin. Not much, but it was encouraging in some respects as the Saxons were still heading towards them but they were deliberately avoiding the larger towns and any resistance that they might encounter that would slow them down, so they hadn’t yet reached their target.

“What we have to decide gentlemen is what would be an important location for the Saxons in this area,” Arthur began, “Merlin is sure that they are headed towards somewhere close to us and he is rarely wrong, Avebury was his first choice on his knowledge at the time because of its significance to our people, however it has no strategic value to them so gentlemen what can you tell me of this area.” this last comment was directed to Agranaut and Bedwyr.

Bedwyr was the one who replied using his sword cutting into the earth to indicate the position of the various places that he mentioned.

“There is not much in this area, Littlecote, ten miles east of us was at one time an important Roman staging post, but is not much more than a quiet village these days. Going back along the Ridgeway we passed Barbury and Liddington castles, neither of which could be called important. Further along we have Durocornovium [Wanborough], a busy and sizeable town at the junction of the Roman roads to Cunetio [Mildenhall], Calleva Atrebatum [Silchester] and our own Corinium [Cirencester]. It is the last Vicus [a provincial non military settlement], used for watering horses before the long climb up the escarpment and out of the surrounding valley, and is not fortified and would be difficult to defend as the buildings were spread both sides of the roads. That is all that we have of any significance within a day's ride of here.”

“Well gentlemen,” Arthur began, “whoever holds Durocornovium controls the road to many important towns within the heart of our land and puts the whole region at risk. If we allow them to gain a foothold they could soon cut a large swathe of the south off from the rest of the country. They would also control Avebury and The Sanctuary and deny access to all, holding the people to ransom until they acquiesced. From the reports that we have from Merlin it appears that only a small part of the Saxon army, a few thousand only, are en-route to attempt to seize and hold the town. If successful they would then deploy a much larger force to the area to subdue it fully, its our task to stop them before that can happen. I will go and speak to the men now to prepare them for the approaching encounter, we will leave at first light and hope that I am correct in my assumptions. Berius will you inform Merlin of my intentions and reasons behind them and see if he has any better idea of the number of Saxons that we are likely to encounter”

Arthur spoke to his army and availed them of the situation, instructing them to get a good rest as it could be a hectic time soon. He noticed that Fergus was still very subdued but had that perpetual evil look on his face. Gelda had really given him a painful awakening, but he was still there and behaving himself and had not once asked for his sword back. Which was just as well as Arthur did not trust him with it, he would return it when they encountered the Saxons. The King returned to his area and sat leaning against a tree, staring up into the sky, letting his thoughts wander, back to Avebury and The Sanctuary and the feeling he had in his body and mind there, wondering if he had made the right decision concerning the Saxons. The tree was warm and he could feel the energy running through it and into his body, just as if it were talking to him, such a pleasant feeling just relaxing this way.

He awoke suddenly, Berius was gently shaking his shoulder and whispering quietly that Fergus was on the prowl, seemed like he was seeking out Gelda amongst the sleeping forms, but not to worry as she was awake and waiting for him.

“How can you be sure Berius?” he whispered back.

“Because I have been into her mind and awoken her, she is very receptive to that,” he replied, “Fergus is going to get another nasty surprise.”

They both watched in silence as Fergus hesitated and stopped by one of the sleeping bodies, having found his quarry. His hand raised in the air and they saw the glint of a knife blade caught in the moonlight. Arthur gave a sharp intake of breath and was about to leap to his feet, he should have thought of searching him for other weapons, when Berius touch his arm and whispered to him to wait. As Fergus brought his arm down and let his body drop the sleeping form of Gelda suddenly sprang to life, her sword flashed, taking him right through the body. He dropped like a stone, crying out in agony as the cold steel sliced into him, the knife falling from his hand as he clutched himself to try and stop the flow of blood. His face contorted into a mixture of unbearable pain and surprise. Gelda stood up, put her foot on his stomach and pushed him off her blade causing him to cry out once more at the terrible pain that seared through his body again as he dropped to the ground writhing. The noise had woken others, but seeing that Gelda was okay they rolled over and went back to sleep. Fergus took a long time to die and Gelda just stood there watching him impassively without a word, until he finally slipped away, then she returned to her bed, having wiped her sword on his lifeless body. Arthur expressed his thanks to Berius for letting Gelda know of her danger, he should have been more wary himself, but at least that was one less problem to worry about and he doubted if anyone would miss Fergus, except for the peace it brought them now.

The army moved out at daylight, Arthur despatched riders to scout the country ahead and on their flanks for signs of the Saxons. No reported contacts were made and they reached Durocornovium at noon, circling the town to pitched their camp to the north, but close to the junction of Roman roads. Their arrival had caused consternation amongst the townsfolk as they had been seen on their approach. A small party of horsemen had ridden out to meet them and discover what a large army was doing in the vicinity. They were the officials and elders and were introduced to Arthur by Sir Kay who had ridden out to meet them as they were observed approaching. They were honoured at meeting the King but what brought him to that region, all was peaceful and business was good. Arthur explained why they were there and that it wouldn’t be peaceful for much longer, unless they were able to deal with the Saxons successfully, it was a large force, not just a wandering warband. They were currently approaching Littlecote, Berius had informed him of this earlier as the latest news from Merlin, and were making for there and could arrive before the day was out. The town's reception committee asked why the Saxons would want to attack their town, the military presence had ceased a long time ago, it was just a business community now. Arthur pointed out that they were in a strategic position at a major road junction and whoever held their town would have control over a large area, he had brought his army there to stop them gaining that control. He and his commanders would accompany them back to the town as they needed to see how it was laid out and how best to protect it as he believed none of it was fortified.

The town was laid out as Bedwyr had said, buildings on either side of the roads, not large but spread out all the same and difficult to protect, surprisingly it supported three churches. The town leader answered Arthur’s query by saying one was built for each road which is why they were only small ones, but well supported. Arthur told them to gather all the townsfolk that night and to take refuge in the churches, bar the doors and remain there until he or one of his men returned to them, and to take water and victuals to last the day. It would be very dangerous to be outside and whilst there they could pray for the King’s success as reports had it that they would be greatly outnumbered. His foot soldiers would be in town whilst his cavalry would intercept the Saxons before they reached there, and hopefully they could prevent them from breaking through. Having seen the layout of the town he sent his commanders back to camp saying that Berius and himself would follow shortly as there was something he wished to do first.

He went to the first church and entered, peering into the dim light and sought out the cleric and exchanged quiet words with him whilst Berius discreetly hung back. Finally the cleric put his hand on Arthur’s shoulder and the other on his shield and blessed him. Arthur repeated the process in the other two churches and then rode back to camp with Berius quietly by his side, then gathered his commanders together to outline his battle strategy.

The foot soldiers would go to town at first light under the command of Sir Agranaut and Sir Bedwyr to protect the townsfolk in the churches should any of the Saxons break through. The cavalry would be split into the three groups as usual with Legionus, Sir Bors and himself as troop leaders and Sir Kay would accompany him. The troop under Legionus would be held in reserve as normal to give support where needed or contain any breakthrough, bearing in mind that there were likely to be more Saxons than they had encountered before. Each troop was to supply a scout to survey the land and establish the exact whereabouts of the Saxons and if they appeared to be in one group or several, as they did not want some of them circling around behind them. They would leave at the first sign of daylight before the enemy were upon them.

“At the moment the town should be between them, so even if they have scouts out themselves they should not be aware that we are here, and we will keep that cover as long as possible. The ground to the south comes down from the escarpment, then levels out so we should see them before they see us. We will wait for them to descend to the valley before we attack, but keep your eyes open that they do not go further along before they decide to come down. I have a feeling though that they might use the road from Cunetio as it follows the river valley and is easier going. Although they will be in the open a lot sooner they are not expecting a military presence here and therefore it might not bother them. We will meet again at first light and review the plan, by then we may have received more information.”

It did not seem to Arthur that he had been asleep for very long when he was woken by Berius shaking him, it was still dark, dawn was some way off yet. He had received news from Merlin that the Saxons were no more than ten miles away and had begun to move forward again after a short camp, using the darkness to hide their movement. They were on the road from Cunetio and were about four thousand strong, led by four and twenty horsemen, animals that they had acquired during their attacks. Merlin believed that they might split into two or more groups as they moved closer and dawn started to break, a surprise attack on the town from different directions so that no townsfolk escaped to tell the story. To Arthur this was disturbing news, a change of tactics by the Saxons, moving during darkness in what was a strange land to them, unless they had prepared well for this and sent people previously to discreetly survey the land.

Time to move the army into position before they arrived and hopefully catch them before they had a chance to split into groups. Berius indicated that he was going to do a little scouting and see what he could glean from the animal kingdom and would be back shortly, slipping quietly away into the shadows as Arthur set about raising the men from their slumber. Arthur informed his commanders of the situation and sent Agranaut and Bedwyr to take the foot soldiers to town immediately, and to be wary of attack from more than one direction. The cavalry would try to contain the enemy, but some at least were likely to break through.

Berius returned at this point with news that the Saxons were just over five miles south of the town and appeared to be still in one group. Arthur wondered briefly how Berius had found that out in such a short space of time, he’d have to fly to cover that distance so quickly. He put it out of his head for the moment and returned to the business at hand. The plan of the previous evening would stand, Sir Bors and his troop to the left, the King’s troop to the right and Legionus, with the most men, slightly back in the rear creating a funnel to draw the Saxons in. They would ride out to meet them a couple of miles from the town, whilst they were still grouped together, and just as dawn would be breaking. He looked around for any comments and as there were none gave the order to move out.

They passed around Durocornovium and joined the road to Cunetio with the King’s troop leading, followed by Sir Bors and his men then Legionus with the Sarmatian cavalry, making their way slowly to keep the noise from the horse's hooves as quiet as possible. Arthur brought his army to a halt some two miles from the town and sat motionless on his horse, just waiting. The light began to gently increase as darkness lost its hold on the night. A bird began to sing, then another, two flew over their heads barely visible with their dark plumage, the countryside had started to wake up, a little early for some but they had been disturbed. Berius looked at Arthur and quietly commented that the enemy were less than a mile away and moving quite fast, he would hear their footfalls on the road soon shortly before he saw them.

The King waited, then he heard them and then all manner of things happened at the same time. Unusually dawn burst upon them suddenly, the Saxons stopped in total surprise seeing their way barred by a large host, then surged forward, spreading out, as Arthur gave the same commands to his army. He lead his troop to the right as Sir Bors moved to the left and the armies clashed with a multitude of noise of steel on steel and cries of anguish of those struck down or trampled by the horses. Those at the rear of the Saxon horde started to spread out to encircle Arthur’s army, which was being pushed back by the concentrated weight of numbers at the front, forming a wall that was difficult to penetrate.

Arthur pulled his men back, turned and charged the Saxon wall repeatedly, making some inroads each time but steadily being pushed back at every attempt. Those that had tried to encircle Arthur’s men were being dealt with more effectively as they were spread out, but several small groups had broken through the cavalry and were making for the town, the foot soldiers there would have to deal with them. The enemy were losing men gradually but they kept on coming, with their concentrated numbers still tightly grouped, and Arthur’s army had suffered some casualties too, both men and horses. Where were the twenty four Saxon horsemen? They hadn’t shown themselves yet, most likely at the back urging their men on.

The town was getting closer behind them all the time and Arthur realised he needed to change his tactics before it was too late, so shouted to his men to withdraw and fall back ready to regroup. They disengaged and galloped towards the town with the Saxons surging after them fanning out as they went thinking that they had Arthur on the run, but they had done exactly what he hoped they would and spread out. The King brought his cavalry to a halt just short of the town. Then following a thought in his head, without questioning why, he took his dagger and cut the binding that was retaining the plain looking cover on the shield that Eudaf Hen had given him, ripping it off. His men watched in astonishment at this strange act but were equally amazed by what was revealed. A red cross on a white background, but right in the centre over the lower part of the cross was a picture of a beautiful woman, the Virgin Mary, the image known to many of them. Arthur smiled and held it aloft shouting 'right and justice are with us,' then swung his horse around, drew his sword and held it aloft shouting 'Excalibur.' Bright light burst from the blade with such an intensity that it dazzled the advancing Saxons throwing fear into their hearts.

At the same moment several hundred horsemen appeared from the town, racing to join Arthur, King Esla’s pennon leading the way followed by another and Lord Tryfig as well. This was a welcome sight indeed, just at the right time. Acknowledging them as he lead the charge against the Saxon horde, this time spread out and not bunched together, a tactical error on their part for which they were now going to pay dearly.

The battle was fierce, Arthur’s men revitalised by the secret that his shield revealed and the arrival of some welcome help. The enemy however had become demoralised by the sight of Excalibur and its blazing blade as it cut them down in droves as the King rode into them. They were fighting for their lives and losing and they had nowhere to run. Arthur sought out their horsemen at the back of the Saxon army, still trying to push their men forward. Sir Kay was with him and Gelda joined them with several of the Sarmatians as they engaged them in combat. Several took flight as the rest stood their ground but Excalibur dazzled and confused them as eight succumbed to Arthur’s determined onslaught, as the others dealt with their opponents with the loss of just one of the Sarmatians, who was caught between two Saxons. Gelda extracted her revenge very swiftly for that and both died with surprise on their faces at being bettered by a woman.

The battle was finally over, except for a few that had escaped, the Saxon horde lay scattered across the valley, dead or in the last throes of dying, no pity spent on them for the savage butchering of Bosham. Arthur’s army had suffered casualties too but small in comparison to the enemy, his cavalry had proved themselves highly effective once again against superior odds. He sent a detachment of men to scour the meadow for any wounded men of his and give whatever help they could, the rest of his army he led triumphantly into the town.

More Saxons than he realised had penetrated the town but by the look of it had been dealt with by his foot soldiers and others that had arrived with King Esla. Arthur sent Sir Bors, Sir Kay and Legionus to the three churches to spread the good news that the local folk could safely return to their dwellings, the danger had passed.

They emerged from the dim interiors of their refuges, blinking profusely in the bright sunlight as they surveyed the multitude of the King’s army passing through on their way back to camp to the north. Bodies of the enemy were scattered around the buildings where they had been dragged off the roads to clear a way through, but Arthur’s fallen had been placed close to the churches as a mark of respect, as they would be given a proper burial later.

As more people emerged, smiles of relief on their faces, nervous laughter and ragged cheering broke out as they relieved their pent up emotions of fear on seeing such a welcome sight. Arthur raised Excalibur into the air and acknowledged them, the majority seeing their King for the first time and marvelling at his youthful appearance. He shouted to them that God had been on their side as he raised his shield so that all could see the cross and likeness of the Virgin Mary emblazoned on it, “he serves us well as I serve him and do the best for all my people.”

A spontaneous cheer erupted from the crowd, all their fear now washed away as they started to chatter amongst themselves.

Arthur dismounted asking Berius to mind his horse whilst he revisited the clerics in their churches, going from one to another as before and spending some moments with each, taking his shield with him. All three asked him the same question, the origin of the shield with its holy emblem. To each he gave the same answer, that it had been given him by the spirit of Eudaf Hen with the instruction to remove the cover only when the time was right, his heart would tell him when that was. They were amazed at his revelation and observed that it was divine providence that he had been chosen as their King from an early age, to bring the country together as one. Arthur agreed that such was his task and he would carry it out to the best of his ability but there was still much to be done to bring harmony and justice to the country so that the people could prosper in peace. He thanked each of them for their prayers and blessings, not just for him and his army but for the people as well.

Arthur led the rest of his men back to their camp to review the days happenings with his commanders, and discover what brought King Esla and his entourage to arrive just when they were needed.

Some of the Sarmatians had gone hunting for game to supplement their meagre supplies and provide a good feast for the evening, which was still some six hours away, the battle with the Saxons had lasted most of the morning. Arthur was introduced to Lord Forrester from Calleva Atrebatum who had met King Esla en-route, both having had a visit from Taliesin warning them of the danger and requesting that they went to Arthur’s assistance. Lord Tryfig was visited by Merlin with the same request, being advised not to use the road from Cunetio as that was the Saxon's likely route. All were told where to head for and when they needed to be there by, almost to the hour as it turned out. Each of the groups had arrived at the town within minutes of each other to be informed by Agranaut and Bedwyr the whereabouts of Arthur’s army, not a moment too soon as it transpired. It always puzzled Arthur how Merlin could be so exact with his timing and now he had Berius disappearing in the dark, returning with information in such a short space of time that even a bird would be hard pushed to cover the distance involved. What is it about these Elders that make them so different to us? he wondered, are they an ancient race that still have many mystical powers? There were stories told in some quarters of a race that were masters of this world once, in the long distant past, until something went terribly wrong. Do some of them still walk amongst us, it appears so, but why are they still here if they are not allowed to use the full extent of their powers, is it because of what happened back in their time? Merlin had often said that they were just ambassadors of peace and could not intervene directly, we had to sort out our own problems otherwise we would not learn, words of wisdom indeed. Who or what restricts them from full involvement, is it a higher authority or just their law that they abide by? When the time is right I will enquire of them, either separately or together.

Berius interrupted his thoughts indicating that the huntsmen had returned with several good looking trophies that would produce a good feast later and looking directly at Arthur concluded by saying that he would learn more when the Elders decided that the time was appropriate. Arthur, startled, stared at him, then burst out laughing as he realised Berius had read his thoughts again, one of their many talents. Perhaps that was how he knew where the Saxons were, but then he wouldn’t have had to leave the camp. The comment was valid, he would be patient and just watch and listen in the meantime, that was a good way to learn in life.